Menu

RSSB Training: A Vital Aid to Understanding Rail Accidents

Featured story
Britain’s railway is among the world’s safest. To keep it that way, organisations that work on or around the railway must learn from any accidents that happen, or nearly happen. That’s the key to preventing them, and training has a big role to play.

Since 2019, RSSB has been helping organisations raise their game with Accident Investigation Training (AIT). It gives them the skills, tools and techniques to investigate accidents, incidents and near misses on and off the railway, and minimise risk. The training also keeps organisations on the right side of legislation by helping them understand their responsibilities to investigate accidents.

RSSB is the independent organisation that works for a better, safer railway. Part of its role is developing the standards that define how the railway runs, and this training is based on the Rail Industry Standard for Accident and Incident Investigation (RIS-3119-TOM). Like the standard, it draws on input from the industry. “It’s driven by what the industry wants and needs,” says RSSB Technical Policy Manager and course trainer Wayne Murphy.

Unravelling complexity

The causes of accidents are often complex. Factors at the organisation, job tasks or workplace and individuals can come together with human performance issues in a web that’s difficult to untangle. This training shows how to find not just the immediate cause(s) but also the underlying cause(s) of incidents. If a train passed a signal at danger, the reason might be human error in the signal box. But the cause of that error could be poor ventilation in the signal box that affected the operator’s concentration. Similarly, if a member of the public slipped while running for a train, it could be because the station switched the platform at the last minute. The task is then to find out why that happened and put in place suitable recommendations to prevent future incidents of this nature.

RSSB’s AIT training helps people to develop the right thinking to discover underlying causes, and master skills like interviewing people involved in incidents and assessing evidence. It also shows delegates how to write reports and recommendations that are clear to people inside and outside the organisation, whether they’re regulators or members of the public.

Prioritising accessibility

GB Railfreight chose the RSSB training because it needed standardised processes as it grew, and because training received from other providers had not seen tangible improvement in safety performance.

“RSSB experts are key to creating and delivering specific targeted learning. With a desire to deliver internal safety improvement and support the LHSBR and NFSG visions and strategies we made our choice. Our relationship with RSSB is strong and it was a no-brainer for us to choose them.”

Stuart Anderson, Head of Safety, GB Railfreight.

The training is available face-to-face over two days, or in three virtual modules spread over a week. Wayne explains: “We try to make everything as interactive and visual as possible, so that the main points are memorable. We want people to go away with a lasting understanding of how to think in detail, but also more broadly about incidents. Using real-life cases and mapping what happened in detail to create a timeline help, as do team exercises.”

Getting results

For GB Railfreight, the impact of the training is clear, says Stuart: “We’ve seen a marked improvement in investigations completed on time, the quality of underlying cause identification is better, and recommendations are looking more deeply at system factors which are integral to running a safer operation.”

There are not many full-time accident investigators in the rail industry. Investigations tend to be carried by driver managers, engineers, station staff, HR managers or safety officers. They need support from their whole organisation. RSSB’s Accident Awareness Training for Managers course helps managers understand what investigators need, to be able to do an effective job.

Wayne says: “It means managers can spot development opportunities that make people better investigators, or see ways to help make investigations easier. Investigators never work in isolation and need co-operation from everyone.”

RSSB can also make the training bespoke, using related scenarios and standards specific to certain organisations, so they’re relevant, memorable and applicable back at work.

“RSSB listened and understood our needs and came back with a solution that matched. The support and service were exceptional. If you want to ensure you are doing the best for your employees and your business then this is the way to go. It enables us to remain in the good books of the Regulator too” said Stuart.

The support continues after the training, says Wayne: “For one organisation, we’ve created e-learning to help assess how much knowledge their people have retained. We’ve helped others improve through steps like sharing accident reports and creating internal forums to share experiences.”


At RSSB we are keen for the industry to utilise our knowledge and expertise. Our training is heavily focused on building the knowledge of our delegates and enabling them to apply the learning back at work to make a positive impact on their business. We recognise that every organisation is different, and we work directly with organisations to develop bespoke courses.

X
Cookies help us improve your website experience.
By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies.
Confirm